A friend recently changed jobs, leaving the workplace after more than a decade. For his going-away present he received an engraved hip flask, some limited-edition gin and a sizable box of Lego.
The Lego was due to the fact that for years his work monitor was adorned by a parade of Lego characters. This was even more unusual given his age, having recently celebrated his 40th birthday.
On receiving the gift at a farewell lunch (pre-food) he jokingly asked if “may he be excused, so that he could assemble the Lego”.
At least he pretended to be joking. I’m fairly sure there were a number of people at the table (myself included) who were keen to build it, even if it meant skipping lunch.
That’s why I think Lego is the greatest toy in the world; entertaining to almost all ages, and has replay-ability that lasts a lifetime. It has small, durable components whose assembly options are only limited by your imagination (and, the size of your bank account).
I’ll admit that I’ve wasted many hours building things on Lego Digital Designer in the last few years. I think the attraction is how I, who have no actual building skills, are able to “engineer” something. (It is of course a skill so small as to be molecular in size, but it’s all I have). If I were a millionaire I’d have a giant Lego room and build epic-sized medieval kingdoms and spaceships. Just because it’s fun.
Below are my designs for a two-man fighter spaceship. It features retractable wings (for easy storage), weapons for both pilot and copilot and a small storage bay (for their lunch, if nothing else). The ship also features a symmetrical design allowing three points of being “fixed” to a docking bay.
My hat also must come off in a sign of respect to the Lego brand who have now expanded into movies and computer games. The computer games are fun for all ages and they’ve really tapped into what makes games enjoyable (low entry point, forgiving game play, a sense of progression, humour and a multitude of achievements). Another aspect I really like is that the games are full co-op on a single device. (Using a single Playstation my wife and I can sit in the same room and play through the entire game together).
With my software engineering background I marvel at the code reuse they would achieve. New games can use basically existing mechanics and just need some new art. The Lego company has basically worked out how to print money.
But, in what sets them apart from many other money-making ventures, they’re able to do it by producing immense amounts of clean, harmless, fun for the customer. And the customer’s children (because the bricks last so long).